From the Archive: Wayne’s World


This is one of those films from my last year at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point for which I’m fairly certain I wrote full reviews for each of the outlets kind enough to allot space to my opinions, the student-run radio station (which I was helping run, so getting some airspace admittedly wasn’t a tough sell) and the college newspaper. This review was turned into my editor at The Pointer. It may have gone through some revisions before hitting print, but likely not. I wrote for The Pointer for around a year-and-a-half, and I’ll bet this is one of the few instances when I was able to cover a film for which the readership might actually have some interest. I still carry a fondness for this movie, but, as the progenitor of a fleet of nineteen-nineties films inspired by Saturday Night Live sketches, it’s got to atone for a lot of sin.  

Movie critics really shouldn’t be allowed to say of write anything about “Wayne’s World.” After all, the appeal of the film has nothing to do with the usual attributes that critics are always scrutinizing new releases for. “Wayne’s World” is a success or failure based purely on whether or not you laugh at the misadventures of Wayne and garth. Things such as plot and character development are secondary, or even completely irrelevant.

Mike Myers has been cultivating “Wayne’s World” since high school days in Canada. He performed the character of Wayne Campbell, a fun-loving kid obsessed with heavy metal and “babes,” with improvisational comedy groups in Toronto and Chicago and on various Canadian television shows, but the character really clicked when Myers brought him to “Saturday Night Live” in 1989. Adding a sidekick named Garth (Dana Carvey) and giving Wayne a late night cable access show, Myers found himself with a genuine phenomenon. After several SNL appearances (most memorably, a game of “Truth or Dare” with Madonna that aired last May), Myers has brought the character to the big screen and allowed him to venture out of that Aurora, Illinois basement.

The film features Rob Lowe as a Chicago producer who wants to bring the show to commercial television and snare away Wayne’s new girlfriend, a heavy metal singer played by Tia Carrere. Wayne battles to preserve the integrity of his show and win back the women who’s so beautiful that, as Garth puts it, “if she were president, she’d be Babe-raham Lincoln.”

Dumb fun is clearly a goal of the filmmakers, but there’s also a certain surreal hip attitude there. That attitude leads to some of the film’s funniest scenes, including a hilarious one in which product placement in movies is mocked expertly. There’s also a load of pop culture references for all of us children of the seventies who have Scooby Doo and “Laverne & Shirley” as major reference points.

It also doesn’t hurt that the performers featured are so engaging. All Myers has to do is flash his goofy, energetic grin to get a laugh out of me, but it’s his joyous demeanor that makes eternal partier Wayne likable enough to carry the movie. Carvey makes Garth awkward and shy, tirelessly trying to be as cool as his best friend, and he can make even the simplest line hysterically funny.

I’m not claiming “Wayne’s World” is a perfect movie. Far from it. Several stretches aren’t funny at all, many of the supporting characters are so bland that they only slow the movie down, and the plot is so inane that it’s best to ignore it. Yet the movie often connects when it’s eagerly provoking laughs, and it’s extremely hard to resist getting swept up in all of its frenzied energy. The movie may not have much substance, but it makes for a great big-screen party.

Party on, Wayne! Party on, Garth!